Lancashire County Council votes to ban non-stunned meat from schools
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday November 01 2017
The Guardian reports that Lancashire County Council has voted to ban non-stunned meat from schools following the proposal of Conservative County Council leader Geoff Driver.
Councillors voted 41 to 24 to ban non-stunned meat from county-run schools, which currently cater for up to 12,000 children who are served 1.2 million meals a year.
According to Labour councillor Lorraine Beavers, children were being used as a “political football” by the Conservative-led council, which defended the motion by arguing that “this is an animal welfare issue, nothing more nothing less.”
Mr Driver was arrested earlier this year on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and witness intimidation, and is scheduled to answer bail on 22 November. His first attempt to ban non-stunned meat dates back to 2013, and resulted in a fall by more than 7% in the school meal uptake in the central Preston area.
This new policy could however have even direr consequences. A report prepared by the council has pointed put that the vote has already “resulted in community tensions and feed the agenda of the far right whose activity is currently growing across the UK and Europe”, and that “a change in policy may also lead to individuals undertaking acts of hate incident/crime”. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the report adds, “certain communities can feel marginalised and feel they are being targeted by the effects of policy changes made by public bodies”.
The council also estimates that the policy could lead to a loss of £285,000 per annum, and that schools could be forced to seek alternative suppliers of Halal meat who may not be ‘Accredited’ suppliers.
Furthermore, a survey by the Food Standard Agency (FSA) conducted over one week in September 2013 in abattoirs across Great Britain, showed that around 84% of animals slaughtered by the Halal method were stunned before slaughter.
Halal has been a widely debated topic in the country since the European Union Council approved the directive Council Regulation (EC) 1099/2009 on the Protection of Animals at the Time of Killing. The regulation, which came into effect in the UK on January 1, 2013, concerned animals to be spared avoidable pain, distress or suffering during killing and related operations. EU member states are allowed however to issue acceptable exemptions, such as in the case of religious slaughter.
Because of agenda-driven media coverage on the issue of Halal meat, zabiha (the Muslim methods of slaughter of animals for food) has been depicted as ‘barbaric’ and inflicting ‘needless suffering’ on animals. To Muslims, however, it is synonymous with “sincerely held, religiously mandated care for animals.”
Many believe that the ‘halal hysteria’ has simply been “agenda-driven and methodologically flawed, stretching data in a distinctly unscientific fashion to unsupported conclusions.” Indeed, the number of animals affected by religious slaughter is extremely low, and several experts, such as Dr Temple Grandin, have concluded that religious slaughter is at least as humane as conventional mechanical slaughter.
On the other side of the spectrum, organisations such as the RSPCA, British Veterinary Association, and the Humane Slaughter Association, have signed a joint statement saying that “the only humane way to kill an animal is to stun it.”
While the decision will undoubtedly continue to cause controversy, measures need to be taken in order to prevent the issue of religious slaughter from further exacerbating Islamophobic sentiments across the country.